Can Purpose Kill You?

Photo by Randalyn Hill on Unsplash

There’s hundreds of quotes on Google about “chasing you passion” “living for a purpose.” These quotes seem incredibly inspiring and positive, but there is also a much darker side to having a purpose.

In our world, we are shaped to be ultra-deterministic, to always have a way to achieve success no matter how many sacrifices we have to make. That in itself, is intertwined with everyone’s need to “find their passion” in life. It’s like we convinced ourselves that without some sort of overarching purpose in life, life has no meaning, and so there is no point in living.

It starts off during our elementary school days when we’re asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” That’s the first purpose already laid out for you to achieve. When adults ask children this, they want to hear a job title, and especially a career that is associated with respect and authority. At the age of seven, we’re already instilling this idea on children that humans need a purpose in life. (Yes, I do understand that this question brings about successful lawyers, doctors, and engineers, but that is such a small population compared to what happens to the others.) This brings about a lot of pressure in children from a young age, to work towards achieving their purpose and not really getting to enjoy the life given to them. You might think I sound crazy, but it’s true. As the years pass by, more and more schools have started implementing CTE programs starting as young middle school.This begins the first moment when a life is associated with purpose.

Then we’re guided to a plethora of purposes, and that we must constantly be working, learning, and doing everything that we can to achieve these, or we’ll be labeled as lazy; which, in our capitalist society is one of the worst insults.

This is why so many people put so much pressure on themselves to attain a purpose that it’s killing them more than helping them. We sacrifice so much of our health, social wellness, and life to achieve a purpose because that’s what we have been conditioned into thinking what life is.

There’s so many people who develop anxiety and depression because they lost themselves while achieving their purpose. There are people that take their lives because of this constant need for purpose, and once they fail or don’t find purpose anymore, they deem life meaningless. There are also people who are living but they aren’t alive anymore. Purpose may not have killed them, but it killed the humanity in them.

So, purpose is painted as this beautiful meaning that we plaster on everything when people ask “What is the meaning of life?” Yet, we forget that it is capable of both giving life to someone, but just as easily taking it away.

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